Managing people

Workplace diversity and inclusion: why it's important

With inclusion comes diversity. Together they shape the culture of your organisation and contribute to the success of your business and staff. 

On the surface, workplaces that instil diversity and inclusion practices have a happy workforce. But in reality, the advantages of workplace diversity and inclusion run deep and are entrenched within the business operations and culture.

Organisations experience greater levels of productivity from employees. They inspire innovation, creativity and connectivity leading to staff engagement and loyalty.

Job satisfaction and feeling valued means staff are less likely to seek external opportunities. Every team member you replace will cost you time and money. Equally important to retention is the ability to attract new employees.

So how do you demonstrate your values and culture to the outside world? 

Step into the shoes of future employees

Anyone who has experienced a form of biased behaviour will do their homework before joining an organisation. At the application and interview stage they will research your position on diversity and inclusion and determine whether values are aligned.

If the budget allows, consider creating a ‘what it’s like to work at…’ video. This paints a picture of your workplace culture. Job seekers will be looking for a balance of gender, age and mix of cultural backgrounds.

Not everyone has a video budget, so use your website to demonstrate where you stand. Either post your policy, highlight company initiatives or employee benefits that reflect equality and respect. Beyond the policy, does your website reflect what you preach? Consider the images of people and use inclusive language. Publish employee programs, initiatives or testimonials from staff. 

New and current employees

For all new staff, introduce your values during the induction process – this creates awareness and sets expectations from the onset. Refresher workshops are an effective way to keep everyone in check.

In addition to the workplace diversity and inclusion policy, there are other policies and initiatives that can be applied for support, and some you may already in place:  

  • equal employment opportunities (EEO)
  • support for employees with disability
  • flexible workplace arrangements
  • leave policies such as carer’s leave
  • ability to purchase additional annual leave
  • code of conduct
  • unacceptable workplace behaviours 
  • learning and development program
  • mentoring programs
  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP). 

These are great on paper, but actions speak louder than words so find ways to demonstrate you live and breathe the values. Offer equal opportunities for professional development.

Do not tolerate discrimination of gender, age, ethnicity, religion, disability or sexual orientation. Ensure equity in your remuneration structure. Explore ways to embrace cultural festivals with team building activities. Support religious holidays or requirements. There are countless ways you can lead by example.

Some workplaces have a diversity and inclusion committee whose role is to measure the success of workplace initiatives, improve them and introduce new programs. 

Moving forward

If you don’t have a diversity and inclusion policy – create one. If you do have one – periodically review it.

Workplace diversity and inclusion makes your business a safe and better place to work. It gives everyone a voice and empowers your staff to perform well. It promotes a productive, loyal and engaged team dedicated to achieving business objectives.

Make diversity and inclusion part of your strategy and let your employees grow with your business and be part of something special.  

Jenny Dikranian

Content Writer, Business Australia

Jenny Dikranian is a content writer passionate about entrepreneurship and innovation in inspiring business success.

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